Home News The military said eight Israeli soldiers were killed in southern Gaza.

The military said eight Israeli soldiers were killed in southern Gaza.

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Eight Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday while travelling in an armoured vehicle through southern Gaza, the military said, as Israel’s offensive on the southern city of Rafah continued to take its toll on its forces.

The Israeli military said the explosion occurred at around 5:15 a.m. when Israeli troops were fighting in the northwest area of ​​Tel Sultan, west of Rafah. The military said the eight soldiers were riding in an armored vehicle when the explosion occurred and they belonged to the Israeli military’s engineering corps.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas said in a statement that its militants fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli military vehicles west of Rafah, killing some soldiers. Israeli military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, told reporters that it was not clear whether it was an explosive device that damaged the vehicle or the anti-tank missile fire.

Israeli military officials said the blast damaged the vehicle but may have also detonated ammunition inside, adding that its severity made it difficult to find and identify bodies.

On October 7, the Hamas-led attack left about 1,200 people dead in Israel, most of them civilians, and about 250 people taken hostage. More than 36,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war, with Palestinian health officials not distinguishing between combatants and civilians. Israel’s fighting in the Gaza Strip has lasted for more than eight months.

Hamas has been waging a tenacious guerrilla war against Israeli efforts to defeat the group once and for all, remove its leaders and bring back many of those abducted in the Oct. 7 raid, which the Israeli military says has killed an estimated 13,000 to 14,000 militants in Gaza. Israeli officials have not provided evidence for that count.

More than 300 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza in late October. End of Januaryabout 20 Israeli soldiers were killed as they prepared to demolish buildings in Gaza near the Israeli border.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly mourned the soldiers’ sacrifice and called on Israel to remain committed to its military goals of eliminating Hamas, retrieving the hostages and “ensuring that Gaza no longer threatens Israel.”

“There is no substitute for victory. Let no one distract you from this simple and clear fact: We must stick to our war goals, despite the heavy and painful cost,” Netanyahu said.

Some Israelis, families of hostages held in Gaza, and former security officials have criticized Netanyahu, saying that only a reconciliation with Hamas could lead to the return of the remaining 120 prisoners, both living and dead, while others say that Netanyahu’s failure to clearly propose a post-war plan that differs from Hamas has led to Israel’s stagnation in Gaza.

Last weekend, Israeli forces rescued four hostages in a rescue operation in central Gaza, but dozens of Gazans also died, according to local health officials. Admiral Hajari praised the operation but added: “We have to be honest – we can’t bring everyone home this way.”

In recent weeks, Israeli troops have moved closer to Rafah, launching sweeps along the border with Egypt to destroy tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into Gaza. They have also raided the city of Rafah, where the United Nations estimates more than a million Palestinians have fled.

In the northern town of Beit Jan, inhabited entirely by Arab Israelis of the Druze faith, residents mourned Wasim Mahmoud, one of the fallen soldiers. The Druze occupy an unusual middle ground in Israel: Arabs who practice a minority religion and often serve in the Israeli military and security forces.

Residents of the town had planned to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a festival shared by both Muslims and Druze, but mayor Nazih Dabbur said all public celebrations had been cancelled due to the news.

“We cannot bury a child and celebrate on the same day,” Mr Dabur said on Saturday, offering condolences to the family of the deceased. “This is a huge tragedy for us.”

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